A fencing contractor has been fined $25,000 after a teenage worker suffered serious hand injuries on the job at Camooweal.
Glenn Henry Cook, a sole trader operating as a fencing contractor, faced the Mount Isa Magistrates Court for breaches relating to duty of care under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
It followed an incident in 2017 when one of his workers had three fingers badly crushed by a hydraulic post driver.
Cook had been contracted by Australian Beef Holdings Pty Ltd to complete 89km of fencing at Barkly Downs near Camooweal. He employed a crew of six workers to use a second-hand hydraulic post driver bought earlier. No operation or maintenance manuals were supplied at purchase.
On May 20, 2017, two teenagers were using the post driver to install galvanised fence posts. One operated the driver, while the other was using a spirit level.
As the female worker held the spirit level, she went to throw a lolly wrapper inside the hollow post. At the same time, her co-worker inadvertently released the hammer on the post driver which impacted three fingers on her right hand.
The 18-year-old woman was flown to hospital after losing her index and middle fingers, which had to be surgically reattached. She also sustained de-gloving of her little finger. As a result, she struggles to use her hand, has ongoing psychological issues, and significant loss of amenity.
The court heard Cook failed to manage the risks associated with the plant, including its moving parts in accordance with numerous regulations.
An investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland found the post driver had no guarding and there was no administrative control, such as an exclusion zone. The injured worker had been doing fencing work for Cook for two weeks prior to the incident.
The investigation found Cook had given the teenagers a brief demonstration of the operation of the post driver. Other than that, neither worker had received any information, instruction, training, or supervision to ensure safe operation of the machine.
Following the incident, Cook fitted a simple wire mesh guard which effectively prevented the potential for contact with moving parts. He also engaged a consultant to provide safety induction to staff and develop safety systems.
Magistrate Trinity McGarvie took into account the defendant's early guilty plea, a lack of previous convictions, co-operation with the investigation and post incident measures taken to address risk. Cook was fined $25,000 and ordered to pay costs of almost $1600. No conviction was recorded.